African Markets

SA in dialogues with Pfizer; Merck for Covid-19 pills

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As the omicron strain spreads across the country and instances nearly treble, South Africa is in talks with Pfizer and Merck to get access to their Covid-19 therapy pills.

Nicholas Crisp, deputy director general of the South African Department of Health, responded to a lawmaker’s query on Wednesday that the country wants one of them to potentially develop the therapies in South Africa.

“We are discussing those two and other matters with manufacturers so that we understand what it is they are selling, what it does,” he said.

With around 3 million infections and around 90,000 deaths officially ascribed to Covid-19, South Africa has the highest number of confirmed cases in Africa.

A fourth wave of infections is being triggered by the beginning of omicron. The National Essential Medicines List Committee is considering the treatments, as well as their economic value, he said.

“We have done a numbers estimate with our colleagues in the provinces of the volumes we think we will be able to use of those two medications,” he said. Merck and Pfizer have applied to the US Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval of its Molnupiravir and Paxlovid tablets, respectively.

According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, SA had 8 561 infections on Wednesday, up from 4 373 the day before.

Story by : Norvisi Mawunyegah